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March 2008

Divorce Attorney Christopher Pearsall on Rhode Island Child Support and Gross Differences!

Rhode Island Child Support is based upon the gross incomes of both parents of the child.  Yet all children are not created equal.  Children who have parents who make more gross income are apparently more deserving than children who have parents who make less income. 

This begs the question as to whether child support is unfair to the payer parent (non-placement parent) or whether the Rhode Island guidelines governing how much is paid are unfair to the child or children.

For instance, assume non-placement parent Gary and his ex-wife Tina make $125,000 in gross income per year.  Tina has placement of their son, Jeremy.  According to the support guidelines let's say that because of the parents' aggregate gross income  Gary has to pay $450 per week as his financial obligation for Jeremy.

Now assume that non-placement parent Gerry and his ex-wife Gina make $50,000 in gross income per year.  Gina has placement of their son, Jeffrey.  According to the child support guidelines let's say that because of the parents' aggregate gross income Gerry has to pay $125.00 per week as his financial obligation for Jeffrey.

Now, the question is whether or not gross income is a truly proper way to calculate child support and whether it works an injustice on the payer parent or the child of the parents making the lesser gross income.

Is Jeremy any more deserving of support monies than Jeffrey is?

Assume Jeremy and Jeffrey are the same age.  Should it take more money to provide necessities for Jeremy than for Jeffrey?

Should Gary be required to pay much more than is necessary to provide the necessities for Jeremy simply because he happens to make more money?

Should Jeffrey be entitled to the same amount of support as any other child his age?

The standard of gross income clearly takes into account different "classes" of people, or that children of parents making more money are "entitled" to more than children of poorer parents.

If you encounter a Motion to Modify that is filed against you in the family court because you have had a substantial increase in income substantially after the birth of the child, it is a perfectly good argument to present to the court that child support was originally set to meet the child's needs but that the child's needs are being met without an adjustment in child support and it is unfair to increase child support payments now and simply create a higher standard of living that the child has not been used to and does not require.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

Attorney Pearsall's practice is focused almost exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family law.

CALL (401) 354-2369 now to schedule for your low-cost, no obligation legal consultation!

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is based on Rhode Island and is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.

Copyright 2008 - Christopher A. Pearsall and Pearsall Law Associates (All Rights Reserved.)


Rhode Island Attorney Ethics by Divorce Attorney Christopher Pearsall

Whether you are talking about a divorce attorney or a bankruptcy lawyer or even any Rhode Island lawyer you choose to address, it matters little when you come to ethics.

Why do I say this?

It is an observation I've made over the years working with clients and one that still confounds people today.  It is the difference between an attorney being ethical and an attorney practicing within his ethics.

The two are not the same. 

For instance, if something is ethical then it can be said that it is something most men and women of a reasonable disposition are likely to agree upon as being exceptible treatment as between people.  This, of course is just a general standard and does relate just to divorce attorneys and whether they take actions that are ethical or not but rather, it is an internal standard of each person. 

Simply put, each of us might see the same behavior while one person would find that behavior to be ethical and another person might find that behavior to be unethical.  So, as you can see, something ethical is based on an internal standard that we have established within ourselves or that has been ingrained in us as a result of laws, history, family or even social conformities.

Whether an attorney is acting within his ethics is, however, an objective standard.  When we refer to an attorney in this manner we are referring to whether the attorney has followed the Professional Rules of Conduct.  These are a specific code of conduct.  They set down standards under which the attorney must function if he or she is to avoid discipline or disbarment.

Though this all sounds rather philosophical, it is nevertheless important.  An attorney can be ethical yet not be within his or her ethics. 

Why should this matter?

People generally believe that because attorneys are bound by a code of ethics that they must also be ethical.  This is not true and it is something that especially litigants who are working with attorneys need to know.

One example is all that is needed to illustrate this point.

An attorney has been hired by your former spouse on a Motion to Modify Child Support.  You reach an agreement with the attorney by handing him your tax return to show your gross income.  Your former spouse does the same.  You explain to the attorney that your tax return includes substantial overtime from last year but that you don't get overtime anymore.  The attorney states that it's okay because the Child Support Guidelines account for it. 

The child support is calculated and you end up paying $60 per week more in child support than you should simply because you entered into an agreement and weren't informed.  The attorney has not violated our ethical code because he has not lied to you about the guideline adjustments.  However, by my standards the attorney has acted unethically by entering into an agreement with someone, knowing that child support should only be calculated on your existing income and not your previous income.

As you can tell, personal ethics is much broader than the Professional Code of Conduct which dictates our professional ethics.

When referring to an attorney as unethical, it may help to clarify whether you are talking about a violation of your own personal ethics or the attorney's violation of his code of conduct.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

Attorney Pearsall's practice is focused almost exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family law.

CALL (401) 354-2369 now to schedule for your low-cost, no obligation legal consultation!

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is based on Rhode Island and is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.

Copyright 2008 - Christopher A. Pearsall and Pearsall Law Associates (All Rights Reserved.)